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Sennheiser HD650 Headphone Amplifier

Wharfedale EVO4.4 Speaker

kartikay

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One more point to add IME with OTLs tubes used effect the amps tonality and pairing with a particular headphone. SET dont get affected that much with tube rolling (or the ones I tried didnt show major change).
 

docharsha89

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HD650 is my goto HP when I have to test an amp. Have tried it with Apex Teton, A&S Mogwai, Auris HA-2, Zana deux SE, Glen's OTL, Otomon 71A/45 based SET (which I owned till last month but sold after building my own amp). Listing only few as these amps I could see made big difference in terms of driving HD650. The so called veiled is no more there, bass sounds tight and controlled and overall you see more separation and space around various instruments.
none of these amps I would say added warmth, but there was better layering, bigger soundstage..
Same when driving the HD6xx with my Hugo 2. The mids are full, warm and forward as always, bass is tight and the treble is very well balanced with good extension. Some call the treble to be dark or rolled off, but I strongly disagree. And veil occurs, only when the HD650s are under-driven.
 

kratu

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HD650 is my goto HP when I have to test an amp. Have tried it with Apex Teton, A&S Mogwai, Auris HA-2, Zana deux SE, Glen's OTL, Otomon 71A/45 based SET (which I owned till last month but sold after building my own amp). Listing only few as these amps I could see made big difference in terms of driving HD650. The so called veiled is no more there, bass sounds tight and controlled and overall you see more separation and space around various instruments.
none of these amps I would say added warmth, but there was better layering, bigger soundstage..
I've briefly glanced through the information on the headphone amps that you cited. They definitely look premium. I hope the performance matches that.

I'm also keen on exploring more portable, compact option. Chord Hugo looks interesting. @docharsha89 could share a brief review; along with other alternatives that come close to the amp. Woo Audio WA8 Eclipse looks promising as well. It brings the warmth of tubes in a compact device.
 

kartikay

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Mar 23, 2013
Messages
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Points
28
Location
bangalore
I've briefly glanced through the information on the headphone amps that you cited. They definitely look premium. I hope the performance matches that.

I'm also keen on exploring more portable, compact option. Chord Hugo looks interesting. @docharsha89 could share a brief review; along with other alternatives that come close to the amp. Woo Audio WA8 Eclipse looks promising as well. It brings the warmth of tubes in a compact device.
Best amp in that list with HD650 was Apex Teton, now the question of performance/price I dont think can be applied here as Teton isnt 50X better than something which costs $100 like Magni 3. But you are paying the amount for that sound, which no other amp could be able to do. Though Glen OTL comes really close to Teton at 1/3rd the price and another $500 in tubes. After trying all this I decided to work on my own design as the topology used on GOTL/Teton didnt look that complex and it was a question of tuning the circuit and components to get preferred sound. I can safely say that from limited feedback I got from people listened to that amp its quite close to some high end stuff (most of them have heard above mentioned amps).
WhatsApp Image 2021-01-03 at 20.54.08.jpeg
 

docharsha89

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Apr 30, 2019
Messages
126
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Location
Coimbatore
I've briefly glanced through the information on the headphone amps that you cited. They definitely look premium. I hope the performance matches that.

I'm also keen on exploring more portable, compact option. Chord Hugo looks interesting. @docharsha89 could share a brief review; along with other alternatives that come close to the amp. Woo Audio WA8 Eclipse looks promising as well. It brings the warmth of tubes in a compact device.
My reference is the Hugo 2, as I haven't listened to the original Hugo. With the Hugo 2, almost all headphones I've used until now have benefited immensely. The H2 outputs clean, smooth, liquid power, and drives almost all headphones from 300 Ohm Dynamic drivers to 80 Ohm Planar headphones. The one headphone which I couldn't come to terms with is the Hifiman Arya with the Hugo 2, it was great in technicalities, but the sound was too analytical for my tastes, which was probably due to the F-R curve of the Arya, rather than the Hugo 2's fault.
The Hugo 2 has a very balanced sound with a wide sound stage and top class instrument seperation, the highlight feature being holography to each and every sound in the mix. There is a perception of being in the very sound space with the singer, and a certain depth and "reachability" to the sound. This is especially evident in vocal heavy tracks and acoustic recordings. Treble in the Hugo 2 is again to a very high level with phenomenal extension and texture to the treble. It is seldom harsh or sibilant, but it can be so, If the headphone is a treble happy one (All Beyerdynamic/Hifiman); hence pairing is key to get the best out of it.
Coming to the pricing, ₹1,70,000/- is of course on the deep end, but there remains some value...The Hugo 2 is an All-in-one Dac+Amp combo with its own battery power suppy. It is a portable solution to your music needs, so when you go to work, you can just unplug the cables, pop it in your briefcase with your headphones and take it to work, for world-class sound right at your desk. So, utilities are high compared to other $3000 DACs.
 

kratu

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Feb 1, 2010
Messages
163
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My reference is the Hugo 2, as I haven't listened to the original Hugo. With the Hugo 2, almost all headphones I've used until now have benefited immensely. The H2 outputs clean, smooth, liquid power, and drives almost all headphones from 300 Ohm Dynamic drivers to 80 Ohm Planar headphones. The one headphone which I couldn't come to terms with is the Hifiman Arya with the Hugo 2, it was great in technicalities, but the sound was too analytical for my tastes, which was probably due to the F-R curve of the Arya, rather than the Hugo 2's fault.
The Hugo 2 has a very balanced sound with a wide sound stage and top class instrument seperation, the highlight feature being holography to each and every sound in the mix. There is a perception of being in the very sound space with the singer, and a certain depth and "reachability" to the sound. This is especially evident in vocal heavy tracks and acoustic recordings. Treble in the Hugo 2 is again to a very high level with phenomenal extension and texture to the treble. It is seldom harsh or sibilant, but it can be so, If the headphone is a treble happy one (All Beyerdynamic/Hifiman); hence pairing is key to get the best out of it.
Coming to the pricing, ₹1,70,000/- is of course on the deep end, but there remains some value...The Hugo 2 is an All-in-one Dac+Amp combo with its own battery power suppy. It is a portable solution to your music needs, so when you go to work, you can just unplug the cables, pop it in your briefcase with your headphones and take it to work, for world-class sound right at your desk. So, utilities are high compared to other $3000 DACs.
Thanks for sharing your review. Have you had a chance to experience this in comparison to other amp/dacs within that price range (or lesser)?
 

kratu

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Feb 1, 2010
Messages
163
Points
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Location
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Best amp in that list with HD650 was Apex Teton, now the question of performance/price I dont think can be applied here as Teton isnt 50X better than something which costs $100 like Magni 3. But you are paying the amount for that sound, which no other amp could be able to do. Though Glen OTL comes really close to Teton at 1/3rd the price and another $500 in tubes. After trying all this I decided to work on my own design as the topology used on GOTL/Teton didnt look that complex and it was a question of tuning the circuit and components to get preferred sound. I can safely say that from limited feedback I got from people listened to that amp its quite close to some high end stuff (most of them have heard above mentioned amps).
View attachment 53677
That looks like a professional quality build. As you touched on the topic of cost, I'm wondering about potential options under 80k. I do believe that it is possible to get a great value from less (like you have done with DIY). There could be brands which offer a better performing equipment for quite less.

On a different note, spending 5-10x the cost of the headphones looks slightly unbalanced. I'd rather spend more on headphones such as the Audeze series; and pair that with a decent amp. I consider that as a better investment as that impacts the sound signature more.
 

docharsha89

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Apr 30, 2019
Messages
126
Points
28
Location
Coimbatore
Thanks for sharing your review. Have you had a chance to experience this in comparison to other amp/dacs within that price range (or lesser)?
The Amp/DAC I've used at various price points :-
- RME ADI-2 DAC FS
- Mytek Brooklyn Amp DAC
- Parasound ZDAC v2
- Schiit Magni 2, 3
- Schiit Asgard
- Schiit Valhalla 2
- Schiit Lyr 3
- DAC : Modi 2 & Bifrost Multibit
- JDS Labs Element
- Chord Mojo
- Ifi Black Label

And some minor ones in comparison like dragonfly red, Fiio Amps etc which I refrain to compare with the Hugo 2.
 

kratu

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Feb 1, 2010
Messages
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That's a range of amp/dacs. I'd be interested to know how you would order this list, based on your preferences.The intention is to figure out a more affordable option.
 

docharsha89

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Joined
Apr 30, 2019
Messages
126
Points
28
Location
Coimbatore
That's a range of amp/dacs. I'd be interested to know how you would order this list, based on your preferences.The intention is to figure out a more affordable option.
I would place the Mytek Brooklyn at the top, followed closely by the Chord Mojo, then by the RME ADI-2 DAC FS, and rest of the others after that. The Chord Mojo, in my view, is a stunning piece of Audio tech. You need to spend easily over $1000, to see considerable improvements jn sound. In fact, I was so spoilt by the Chord Mojo, that when I sold my Mojo and got the RME DAC, I simply couldn't adapt to the neutral-bright sound of the RME, that I ended up selling it within the month.
 
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